I’m sharing the symbol of the Pentacle today which has many different uses as a symbol throughout history. It has no single meaning: it represents perfection in mathematics, the human body, words, and was also used in religious ritual and magic. I like the Greek meaning that it represents the five elements are believed to make up the physical body: earth (matter), air (breath), fire (energy), water (fluids) and aether (the psyche or soul).
It’s at times such as this we turn to our past and our roots, look to our ancestors for symbols, meanings and interpretations that helped them, and how they can help us understand and get through difficult times.
It’s been a very difficult year for many people so I just want to wish everyone a prosperous and peaceful new year.
I look forward to blogging about oils in January 2021 and invite you to my practice based in the beautiful town of Richmond, North Yorkshire for some well deserved healing, rest and relaxation. More details to follow.
There are so many oils out there which would make up the perfect Christmas blend: Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Orange and Pine would be a lovely combination.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is powerful and uplifting, it’s musty, sweet sharp aroma was used in love potions; Clove (Syzgium aromantium) is antiviral, bactericidal, used in traditional medicine for toothache and is said to prevent the spread of contagious diseases such as the plague!!!! It is still used in modern pharmaceuticals because of the naturally occurring presence of eugenol (click here for more information); Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) traditionally used for stomach disorders could be the right scent to help digest a heavy meal; Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) – or alternatively you can use Bitter orange, Petitgrain, Neroli or Bergamot all from the same plant family (Rutaceae) again aids digestion but is also warming and carminative; Pine (Pinus sylvestris) I have already blogged about here can help reproduce the healing environment of a pine forest., perfect for a post Christmas relax.
Use all 5 (1 drop of each in a diffuser) or a combination of 2 or 3 (use either Clove or Cinnamon as they are both stimulating oils combined with 1 or 2 others) to create a perfect festive environment. Merry Christmas to all.
I have some exciting news in 2021 as I will be offering Aromatherapy treatments including massage at Helen McQue Acupuncture Clinic, Richmond, North Yorkshire from the 20th January (all being well). Check out the wonderful clinic here: www.mcqueacupuncture.co.uk If I don’t see you face to face, please contact me via my blog, Facebook or Instagram and I can offer Aromatherapy advice online for any symptoms or if you are looking for a particular oil or blend. I can advice on which oils to buy and which suppliers, dilution and how to administer. So, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!
There are lots of essential oils good for skin – carrier oils too. Right now I’m using an Avocado oil for my face as it is has emollient properties which soften and soothe the skin. It penetrates so I only need a few drops which I put into my palm, rub gently together and pat over my face and neck, massaging lightly to get a good cover.
It is good for my mature skin too, I feel nourished when I have used it and I added essential oils for mature skin: Sweet orange, Cypress and Vetiver. I could have used Patchouli oil, Sandalwood or Rose depending upon preference. It is important when using an oil on your face that you like the scent, especially when it is used in the morning or last thing at night as it can influence how you feel. Some may prefer a separate night oil which will help induce sleep as well so a good combination would be Sweet orange (again), Lavender, Ylang ylang. Or swap the Ylang ylang for either Rose, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Neroli. If you like Clary Sage or Bergamot add some of that too.
Remember the skin on your face is thinner so the dilution of oil needs to reflect this. The rule is one drop of essential oil per 10ml of cream or oil if using on the face so if you have 100ml of face cream or face oil, you would use 10 drops of essential oil. It is different for a massage or bath, only use between 6-8 drops of essential oil in one sitting/or bathing. Less is more so a combination of 2 or 3 oils would make a lovely blend.
Play around, find you favourite blend, it’s the best part of the job!
Check with your doctor or a qualified Aromatherapist before using oils if you are pregnant, have high or low blood pressure or are taking immunosuppresant medication.
I’m getting into the festive season by putting Sweet orange (citrus sinensis) combined with Clove bud oil (syzygium aromaticum) into my oil burner. Add a drop of each to a teaspoon of water, light the candle and breathe.
You may have come across Clove bud oil if you’ve had toothache as it is high in eugenol, a chemical that numbs the nerves. It can also be found in food. If using Clove bud oil in a massage, do not combine with other oils high in eugenol such as Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) and Cinnamon (leaf and bark) as these oils should always be used in small amounts due to their chemical make up. Also, I would never recommend ingesting any essential oil, consult a qualified aromatherapist or your doctor before use.
Yet Clove bud oil is highly effective and although recommended to be used with caution, there is research about how successful it is for dealing with pain and bacteria. It is anti inflammatory and an analgesic, good for musculoskeletal pain such as arthritis. It is an immunostimulant so can be used after a period of illness, or you are feeling physically debilitated.
It is a relaxing, warm oil and can create a peaceful atmosphere with it’s rich, spicy but sweet aroma, and hints of woody, fruity notes which is why I’m recommending it in a oil burner or diffuser (2/3 drops of Clove, 4 drops of Orange). Combined with the fresh, uplifting scent of Sweet orange, let these oils fill your room with festive ambience.
Avoid in pregnancy, those who are taking immunosuppressant medication. Can cause skin irritation.
Why is Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) significant and given as a gift to Jesus in recognition of his Divinity? The reason is that in ancient times Frankincense was just as expensive as gold in terms of weight and is mentioned 22 times in the Bible.
Yet Frankincense is also rich in terms of its healing and therapeutic qualities. The essential oil comes from the dried and distilled resin of the Boswellia tree, grown in Somalia, Ethiopia, the Red Sea and Lebanon. It is extracted by tapping the bark, where the sticky resin exudes and forms ‘tears’ that harden. These ‘tears’ naturally protect the tree from infection and repairs damage and disease and we use it in the same way, to protect and repair our bodies and minds.
Traditionally Frankincense was used as incense in churches and for meditation. It is a balancing oil, calming and sedative, slowing the pace of, and deepening, the breath making it a comforting oil when stressed and anxious. However, it can also be energising as according to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, Frankincense heightened his senses and awareness, enabling him to prophesise. Culpepper suggested it helped with depression and poor memory, helping strengthen the nervous system. It has a lemony, warm woody aroma which can sometimes be spicy and musky making Frankincense a dynamic oil – both relaxing and stimulating. When Frankincense is burned it produces phenol which is highly antiseptic, historically believed to banish evil spirits from sick rooms. Being rich in monoterpenes it helps clear mucus and catarrh making it expectorant so good for asthma, coughs, bronchitis and laryngitis – perfect for these winter months where our immune systems are low and susceptible.
Frankincense is also a lovely oil for the skin, particularly mature skin, balancing oily skin, it is anti-inflammatory, healing scars, wounds and sores – similar to how the resin ‘tears’ repair damage to wounds of the tree, we can use the oil to repair damage to human skin. It blends beautifully with Myrrh but also any citrus oil such as Bergamot, orange, lemon, and floral oils like Rose, Geranium, Lavender and Jasmine.
This is an oil gifted by kings given to a future king – if you believe in the Christmas story yet it’s healing, meditative power is far reaching both historically and cross culturally making it a magical oil producing perfect harmony, balance and calm.
Avoid in pregnancy, unsuitable for children and those who are taking immunosuppressant medication.
Now here is an oil when I smell it I think ‘THAT is aromatherapy’ because of it’s deep and profound aroma; it takes my breath away.
It is Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) which has a rich, intense, nutty, earthy scent and one whiff of it can help clear your mind of clutter.
It’s key chemical constituent is esters making it a relaxing, balancing oil. It is healing, uplifting, cheering so great on a wet, dark day like today but it is also calming so good for high blood pressure, headaches and migraines.
It is anti-inflammatory, soothing the skin and a cell regenerator but also helps relax muscles, reduces spasms and fatigue. Studies suggest it helps reduce bronchospasms and improves peak flow to an excellent choice for people who suffer from asthma.
It a gentle oil, a good choice for young and old, but can be sedative so use in small amounts. Also, care should be taken if used before drinking alcohol as it may increase the effects of drunkenness.
Use it in an evening bath, it blends beautifully with Lavender, any citrus oil, Juniper and Geranium (up to 8 drops using any combination in a warm bath) or in a rollerball, rubbing onto a pulse points to ward off tension and stress.
I cannot recommend this oil enough, for me it clarifies the mind, helps me see through a brain fog. Definitely an oil to savour.
Do not use in pregnancy, consult a doctor or qualified Aromatherapist if you have any concerns.
Today I’m writing about Juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis) grown naturally in the north, particularly Siberia, Canada and Scandinavia. Maybe this is why I think of Juniper as a winter plant, with it’s berries used in cooking at Christmas, or decorating wreaths, maybe it’s because it is a warming oil with it’s fresh, woody resinous aroma.
There is legend that the Juniper tree protected Mary, Joseph and infant Jesus from King Herod’s soldiers. It’s lovely to put into a burner or diffuser this time of year with Lavender, Rosemary, Ginger or Frankincense, or use in massage to warm the muscles.
Juniper detoxifies, it helps clean out the body and mind of excesses, of stress, exhaustion, tension. It is what we call an adaptogenic (see glossary) oil in that can relax and stimulate. For example, it is a diuretic so will help with fluid retention and cellulite. Studies with rats demonstrated weight suppression so could be used (with Grapefruit) to support weight loss. It is an abortifacient, it stimulates the uterus so should never be used in pregnancy however, it us useful for women and girls who experience PMS bloating, missed or irregular periods. It’s detoxifying properties are good for the skin too, unblocking pores, acne, dermatitis and eczema. It is antiseptic and antispasmodic due to it’s chemical make-up of alcohols and terpenes, extended practice demonstrates wound healing actions.
Traditionally, Juniper has been used in rituals, blessings, thought to drive away evil and protect our souls. However, more often than not these days, the only spirit it may be used for is gin!
A word of caution here, Juniper should not be used on those with kidney disease or on those who have suffered nephritis as prolonged use can irritate the kidney’s. Do not use in pregnancy. Make sure your oil is extracted from the berries (cheaper version are from the needles and wood), always buy oils displaying the Latin name.
I’m starting Advent with the festive healing scent of Pine (Pinus sylvestris), or Scots Pine as it is known, which has a fresh, woody, resinous – somewhat harsh – aroma. The oil is extracted from the needles of this diamond shaped tree, making it a Christmas tree favourite. It is also the national tree of Scotland.
Like most essential oils, Pine has medicinal qualities. It is rich in monoterpenes making it an excellent expectorant, both anti-viral and bactericidal, therefore good for respiratory congestion such as asthma and bronchitis. It can also have a clearing effect for the common cold. It has wound-healing properties for inflamed skin such as eczema and is an anti-inflammatory for muscular aches and pains, and arthritis. Put 1-2 drops in a burner at this time of year to clear the air and get you into festive mood.
The scent will remind you being in a pine forest because it is the evaporation of the essential oils from the pine needles that creates the scent when you are in a forest environment. For those who are spending more time indoors, when you burn this oil, it will create that space – a healing space – where you can imagine yourself taking a slow, mindful walk through a pine forest and you can experience the sensory power of a forest bath.
Do not use in pregnancy. It is a very stimulation oil so not recommended for high blood pressure or those with sensitive skin. Consult a doctor or qualified aromatherapist if you have any concerns.
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